Visiting Djibouti president escapes judge death quiz

17th May 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 17 (AFP) - The French courts summoned visiting Djibouti President Ismael Omar Guelleh for questioning this week in connection with the 1995 death of a French judge, but he has already left Paris, officials said Tuesday.

PARIS, May 17 (AFP) - The French courts summoned visiting Djibouti President Ismael Omar Guelleh for questioning this week in connection with the 1995 death of a French judge, but he has already left Paris, officials said Tuesday.  

Guelleh, who met with French President Jacques Chirac early Tuesday to discuss a variety of bilateral issues including the inquiry into the judge's death, "is no longer in Paris," said a source at Djibouti's embassy in Paris.  

Lawyers for the widow of Bernard Borrel, who died in suspicious circumstances in 1995 in Djibouti, announced that Guelleh had been asked to appear for questioning early Wednesday in connection with the case.  

As a head of state, Guelleh enjoys diplomatic immunity from prosecution when he visits France, but could be heard as a simple witness in an investigation.  

Borrel, whose charred remains were found near the capital Djibouti, was initially thought to have committed suicide, but French magistrates looking into the case at his widow's request now believe Borrel may have been murdered.  

Last year, declassified documents from France's foreign intelligence service DGSE revealed that two witnesses told French agents that Borrel had been assassinated for political reasons on the orders of Guelleh's entourage.  

At the time of Borrel's death, Guelleh was then president Hassan Gouled Aptidon's chief of staff.  

The witnesses said Borrel - who had been advising Djibouti's justice ministry - allegedly had evidence that suggested Guelleh's involvement in either arms trafficking or in a 1990 attack on a Djibouti restaurant.  

Guelleh told AFP in an interview last month that he had nothing to do with Borrel's death.  

Chirac told his counterpart during their morning meeting that the French courts wanted to proceed more quickly with their inquiry into Borrel's death, the French president's spokesman said.  

Djibouti, a former French colony located in the Horn of Africa, is home to France's main military base in the region, which houses 2,800 troops.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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